My kids help me be a better Mom. Even with all of the parenting resources available to us in the world today, but there is none so helpful as the tiny humans who actually make us parents. How do they accomplish this?
Practice: When you have done something once, it stands to reason that it is easier the second time. This is true with lots of practical aspects of parenting–nursing, diaper changing, installing a car seat, teaching a baby to use a spoon, changing diapers in the dark, wrestling pony-tails into the hair of a constantly moving toddler–I only got better at these. By kid number four, a lot of them were old hat.
Patience: When I had one kid, I couldn’t wait for her to do everything for the first time. I wanted her to smile, then I wanted her to sit up, then I wanted her to crawl, say Mama, etc. With the rest of my kids, I had a better idea of how fast each stage goes, and was better able to just enjoy where my babies were at that moment, instead of being in such a hurry for them to do the next thing. The one exception to this was sleeping through the night. I was always in a hurry for that.
Softness: I’ve softened with each kid. I’ve gotten nicer. More patient. More understanding. I’m still not great, and I’m not finished softening by a long shot, but when I look back at my frustration level nine years ago, five years ago, even last month, I can see a difference. Some of this is simply time and maturity, but it’s also knowing that each of my kids has a different personality, and a different way that I have to adapt to be kind, patient, and loving. One kid helps me learn to hold my tongue (so not good at this, but I’m a work in progress until I die), while another teaches me loosen up (the child is not afraid of ANYTHING and is probably going to give me a coronary sometime in the near future). They don’t take turns, so I have all these different rough spots being worn down simultaneously. It’s a hard thing, but it’s a good thing.
Going with the Flow: It’s easier for me to look at things right now, shrug my shoulders, and say, “Whatever.” Again, I’m a work in progress until I die, but I can see the progress. Case in point: As I write this, my three-year old is throwing some kind of galactic tantrum because I asked him to use the bathroom. With my older kids, this would not have been easy for me to swallow, and I would have been much more likely to make an issue of it. However, this is kiddo #4, and I’ve heard a lot (A LOT) of tantrums in my day, so I’m able to just sit and let him be.
Engaging: I can do things with my kids that I struggled with in early parenting. You need me to park on the bathroom floor and read Little Blue Truck 20 times while you sit on the potty? Let’s do it. You want to learn the names of all the Shopkins and have deep discussions about their personalities? Go for it. You have a deep and abiding desire to dye chocolate chip cookie dough blue because that’s how Percy Jackson’s Mom does it? I’m all in.
I still struggle and I always will. I have personality facets that improve with parenting, but I’ll be the first to admit that some have gotten worse. One of my biggest pet peeves is noise for the sake of noise, which doesn’t get along well with a house full of kids who really really like making noise. I don’t function well with mess, so I turn into a nagging disaster of a human being when the house gets trashed. But I have faith that these rough edges will, in time, get smoothed down, and I’ll have my kids to thank for helping me do it.
How have your kids helped you be a better parent?